‘Beloved Burien community leader’ killed by a stray bullet while working at her desk

Sep 19, 2018, 3:49 PM | Updated: Sep 20, 2018, 4:52 pm
The scene of the Burien drive-by shooting on Sept. 19. (KIRO 7 Chopper)
(KIRO 7 Chopper)


Two 17-year-old suspects have been arrested in relation to the Burien shooting. Witnesses described the SUV from the incident and police were able to track it down. Both suspects have been booked into the youth service center for investigation of murder. The two boys are members of a gang known to law enforcement.

King County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ryan Abbott told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that the 39-year-old father who appeared to be the target of the suspected shooters has gang affiliations, though his 15-year-old son does not.

“It turns out that there were some words between the 39-year-old father and the occupants of the SUV,” Abbott said. “We’ve got some history, it looks like, with the father, where he’s actually a documented gang member.”

Abbott said that a challenge in gang-related cases is that often times, witnesses will not talk to detectives out of fear of retaliation from gang members.

“Because of their age, it will ultimately be up to the prosecutor’s office,” how the teens are tried, Abbott said, but it’s likely they will be tried as adults.


On the other side of a tiny hole shattered in an office window, a single random bullet intended for somebody else 300 feet away instantly ended the life of a 51-year-old woman working at her desk. People who knew the manager at Burien Chiropractic clinic say her sudden loss is tearing a giant hole in the hearts and fabric of her community.

“She was a community leader and she’s been a pedestal to our community,” said Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta, who knew the office manager at the chiropractic clinic–where he was a patient for 20 years.

“Her community was like family, and she always wanted to make sure that people had access to justice, to care, and if someone didn’t know the language, she’d be there as an interpreter,” he said. We just can’t have these kind of terrorist acts in our community.”

Claudia Mendoza, who was a longtime patient at the clinic said through tears. “She was always so kind, I’m really going to miss her so much.”

The grieving family of the woman asked KIRO-7 not to share her name, while they’re still sharing the tragic news with her extended community.

According to King County detectives, at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, two blocks from where the woman was killed, someone fired 11 shots from a moving car at a 39-year-old man who was walking with his 15-year-old son, whom he had just picked up from Highline High School.

The shots were fired at 152nd Street and 1st Avenue South.

Investigators say bullets hit nearby vehicles and buildings, but the man who was the shooter’s intended target was not injured, and he is cooperating with the investigation.

A witness asked not to be identified, saw the shooter open fire. “The passenger sitting in the front side, he just reached over, out the window with a handgun and he started unloading the gun.”

“I heard a couple more shots and saw a man leaning out of his car and firing at a guy running across the street,” said Nik Paulson, who said he heard the sound of bullets flying by “like the sound in a movie.”

Grieving friends of the woman killed are looking for answers.

“There used to be a gang unit in the city of Burien,” said Kennett Bivens who was a friend of the victim. “They took it the gang unit away. I think it’s about time to bring that back and let these police officers do their job, and crack down on this random violence.”

Everyone who was at the scene admitted they could have been killed.

“It shows you can’t take life for granted,” said witness David Wilson. “Because this could happen to anybody.”

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‘Beloved Burien community leader’ killed by a stray bullet while working at her desk